It used to be that if you wanted to buy a musical instrument, you had to find a nearby music store and find time to get there. This traditional method can be inconvenient and sometimes even impossible with busy schedules and limited local options. The music store may not have your preferred instrument in stock, it may be too far away or you simply may not have the time to get there.
Fortunately, the Internet makes it very simple to purchase musical instruments online. However, it may feel like you are taking a leap of faith by purchasing such a costly item without first playing the instrument, listening to it or even holding it in your hands.
Other issues can arise once you make the step to purchase the instrument could arrive at your door damaged, the music store might charge you the wrong amount or send you the wrong item. It is imperative to be able to trust the source that you are buying from before you make the purchase, so that if a problem does arise, you can be assured that it will be resolved.
Here are 10 questions you should ask in order to ensure satisfaction with your online musical instrument purchase:
1. How long has the online music store been in business? There are many fly-by-night stores on the Internet. One way to make sure you are not ripped off is to find out how long the store has been conducting business online. It's common for a company to list how long they have been providing services on the About Us section of its website. If you cannot find the answer on the website, try calling the store to find out.
2. Does the online music store have a phone number? If a company does not list a phone number on their website, it's a sign that they may not make contact with their customers over the phone. Communicating solely through email may complicate your purchase should any problems arise down the line.
3. Is the website secure? If the website does not have an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, you may want to think twice before sending your credit card information to them. Digicert is a trustworthy company that provides SSL certificates to websites that meet encryption and authentication guidelines. McAfee Secure is another company that protects websites from hackers, identity theft, credit card fraud and viruses. Look for these badges they often include a check mark or lock icon on websites for peace of mind that the online music store you are purchasing from is taking all possible steps to ensure their website is secure, which will keep your personal information safe.
4. Does the online store have a physical location? Music stores that are experienced in servicing in-store customers directly tend to have more developed service policies, which will serve you as the customer better. Check the About Us section of the website for information about the music store's physical location.
5. Does the music store have good customer service? One way to find out is to call the music store before you purchase an instrument or piece of equipment. By speaking with a store employee, you will get a better sense of how knowledgeable the store and its staff is, should you have any questions about your instrument once you purchase. N' Stuff Music is a musical instrument store based in Pittsburgh, Pa., that focuses on providing great customer service. As Justin Sarra, N' Stuff Music's Sales Manager, explains, We try to make every online customer feel as though they are getting the same service online as they would if they walked through our doors. If you plan on purchasing an instrument online, the buying experience should be just as personal as if you went to the brick-and-mortar store.
6. Does the online music store have referrals or testimonials on their website? Typically, an online store will not post any bad comments about themselves on their website, for obvious reasons, but having some recommendations and testimonials available for potential customers is a good indication that the store is valued by its current customers. If the online store has a forum, allowing website visitors to post comments and ask questions about certain instruments, you can tell that they are open and honest, and value customer opinions.
7. Does the store respond to email? If you send the store an email with a legitimate question about a particular instrument in their inventory and they do not respond to your email within a reasonable timeframe one full business day you can safely assume that your business is not their priority.
8. Does the music store have a good social media reputation? Check to see if the store has an active profile on Facebook or Twitter and if the store has a decent number of friends or followers. Do they interact with customers online, and do these interactions seem helpful? You might consider contacting someone through a social media channel that has made a purchase from the music store and inquire about their experience. At the very least, you should perform an Internet search on the store to see if anyone has published complaints about them online or in blogs and forums. For example, searching Music Store Name and complaints may provide you with details about the level of service the store offers.
9. What is their return policy? The music store should list its return policy in clear detail on its website. If you change your mind about an instrument or if it is slightly damaged, you should know what the policy of the store is before making your purchase.
10. Can you listen online? Does the store make it possible for you to hear what the instrument sounds like online? Check for videos on the music store's website or on YouTube that may feature the particular instrument you are purchasing.
If you can find the answers to these questions, then online shopping for the perfect guitar, drum set, keyboard or other musical instruments will be a more positive experience. Do some comparison shopping often you can find instruments at a better price through online music stores, but remember that prices vary greatly from store to store.